Definition of litany in US English:



  • 1A series of petitions for use in church services or processions, usually recited by the clergy and responded to in a recurring formula by the people.

    • ‘The second type is worship without the sacraments that incorporates a more ‘contemporary’ style of litanies, music, prayers, and readings.’
    • ‘The rite involves incense, candles, litanies and novenas, and set hymns, often in Latin.’
    • ‘Throughout the 1770s, nevertheless, dramatic works took second place to liturgical demands, including mass settings of increasing intensity, litanies, vespers, and a series of church sonatas.’
    • ‘And as the shadows deepen I light my candles and abjure the cold evening by gripping the picture and mouthing a litany of His name.’
    • ‘Its structural references are historical - to the Greek chorus articulating emotionally freighted communal reactions, and to the polyphonic litanies and choral works of medieval Christian churches.’
    • ‘One day just before Easter, we joined a procession which wound along singing litanies, in and out of four churches, before finishing at Santa Chiara, a sort of liturgical pub crawl.’
    • ‘The book concludes with some litanies in honor of Mary.’
    • ‘Many times in my life, I have heard Perpetua and Felicity mentioned in litanies of saints and prayers of the Church.’
    • ‘Diviners started to include seven Psalms with litanies and prayers.’
    • ‘Display the worship prayers and litanies on the screen in a typeface large enough to be seen from the back of the worship space.’
    • ‘So out went audible responses, the minister's surplice and the litany.’
    • ‘We went then from the cold church in solemn procession, singing litanies into the thin air.’
    • ‘For many who are, like Peter, in the course of progressive dementia, litanies, prayers, and hymns often have a deep emotional significance.’
    • ‘In 1545 he wrote a litany that is still used in the church.’
    • ‘Each of the first four sections includes prayers, litanies, and many other types of texts.’
    • ‘Gone are the days when the community of Sisters which at times numbered about twenty were in their pews at 6.30 am reciting their prayers and litanies.’
    prayer, invocation, petition, supplication, devotion, entreaty
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    1. 1.1 A tedious recital or repetitive series.
      ‘a litany of complaints’
      • ‘A friend who is simply willing to listen to someone's litany of woes may save a life.’
      • ‘I no longer have time for your garbled emails, and now your litany of lies.’
      • ‘Oh yes, I trotted out the whole litany of familiar negatives.’
      • ‘Early chapters review the usual tiresome litany of depressing problems caused by traditional approaches to building and other human endeavors.’
      • ‘It would have been easy, however, for them to dump out a litany of complaints and call it a day.’
      • ‘The litany continues for well over three hundred pages, but there is little point in following it further.’
      • ‘A similar litany of complaints might have come from any United follower in the street, which is why fan endorsement has been nearly unanimous.’
      • ‘I don't want to hear your litany of complaints.’
      • ‘His Columbia University office was ransacked and he was subject to a seemingly endless litany of lies about his character.’
      • ‘There is a whole litany of character traits like this in all of us.’
      • ‘Sorry, but I don't have any more time to address your litany of other complaints.’
      • ‘But the litany of complaints from Government officials cannot be taken up by anyone other than themselves.’
      • ‘For twenty minutes my hostess listed the now familiar litany of complaints.’
      • ‘Professor Jones recites the grim litany of human tragedies that have plagued our planet over the last 100 years.’
      • ‘He's forced to watch a videotape of her reading off a litany of complaints about their dysfunctional marriage.’
      • ‘Nothing is more depressing than a never-ending litany of vandalism, muggings and burglaries.’
      • ‘Ugh, I just can't bear to sit through a litany of her illnesses and complaints and all of that right now.’
      • ‘Most kitchen designers hear this litany of complaints at least once a week.’
      • ‘The gizmo had no sense of how long each step might take, and continued its litany of orders while the user would likely still be occupied with a previous task.’
      • ‘As he recites this depressing litany, there is steel in his voice.’
      recital, recitation, repetition, enumeration, account, refrain
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Middle English: from Old French letanie, via ecclesiastical Latin from Greek litaneia ‘prayer’, from litē ‘supplication’.